LIFE & WORK NEWS Three honorary prizes in a row on April 2

On April 2, Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize Committee will award for the eighth time three honorary prizes to persons or institutions that communicate, construe and convey information on the writer and his works.

By ms - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 17 March 2003

A horse-drawn puppet theater from Lithuania, fairy-tale paper cutouts, and a versatile communicator will all receive the Hans Christian Andersen Prize on 2 April 2003 in Odense.

The choice this year fell to puppeteer and theater director Antanas Markuckis of Panevezys, Lithuania, paper cutout artist Sonia Brandes from Broby on the island of Funen, and Danish scholar and communicator Niels Oxenvad of Odense.

Travelling puppet theater for 16 years
Antanas Markuckis will receive the prize, because every summer for 16 years, he has travelled in his horse-drawn puppet theater, making sure that even the most remote, out-of-the-way village in Lithuania forms some sort of acquaintance with the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. They are performed in the wagon in which the theater group also lives. 

Since 1992, Markuckis' travelling puppet show has had a permanent base in a former department store in his hometown of Panevezys. It has the status of a professional theater with 23 working actors. Antanas Markuckis also participates in the Danish Cultural Institute project "We'll write a letter to Hans Christian Andersen", which will end with a festival at the theater in Panevezys. 

At the moment, work is being done to create as of the year 2004 a Hans Christian Andersen cultural center in the puppet theater on wheels - to promote to an even greater degree familiarity with the famous Danish writer in Lithuania.

Inspired paper cutouts
Sonia Brandes will receive the prize, because just like Hans Christian Andersen himself, she is brilliant at making paper cutouts.  She has demonstrated this time and again at exhibitions in many lands - in Odense, as well, where an exhibition, which opened on Hans Christian Andersen?s birthday, 2 April 2000, displayed wildly imaginative interpretations of his fairy tales. 

Just as Andersen himself believed in divine inspiration, Sonia Brandes believes that her scissors are guided by a higher force, which she finds everywhere - even in Hans Christian Andersen. Her paper cutouts based on the fairy tales may be found in many places - from cookie tins in Japan to intercity trains in Denmark.

Enormous commitment
Niels Oxenvad will receive the prize, because throughout his long life, he has committed himself to promoting familiarity with Hans Christian Andersen both at home and abroad. From 1959-1998, Niels Oxenvad was employed by Odense City Museums:  from 1964-89, as the director of the entire institution; from 1989-96, as the head of the Hans Christian Andersen & Carl Nielsen Museums. 

In this capacity, he has arranged countless special exhibitions and travelling exhibitions in Denmark and abroad, and through various lectures and publications, he has done his part to make Hans Christian Andersen known throughout the world today. Niels Oxenvad is now working as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.  At the moment, he is working on an edition of "Hans Christian Andersen's Correspondence with the Melchior Family," which will be published in the fall.

The honorary prize - a bronze statuette formed in the shape of the book "The Fairy Tale of My Life," executed by artist Jens Galschiøt from Funen - will be awarded on the evening of April 2 in a ceremony at Odense Theater. The event is being arranged by the Municipality of Odense and the secretariat for Hans Christian Andersen 2005, which will also award their own prize. 

County Council Chairperson Jan Boye, Chinese Andersen scholar Lin Hua and Danish Minister of Culture Brian Mikkelsen will award the honorary prizes.

In addition to the three honorary prizes, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize Committee is also the force behind the annual worship service with author and pastor Johannes Møllehave, which will take place at Odense Cathedral, St. Knud's Church, on April 2 at 9:30 a.m.

Moreover, the Prize Committee is co-sponsoring a film symposium at Rosenhaven in Odense on Thursday, April 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A number of lecturers, including Associate Professor Peter Schepelern, Professor Kirsten Drotner, sociologist Henrik Dahl and director Jørgen Lerdam will give presentations on the theme "Hans Christian Andersen and film."

The Prize Committee consists of: Book dealer Børge Grønne, architect Kristian Isager, journalist Marianne Koch, management secretary Susanne W. Kristensen, attorney Jan Moosmand, public relations manager Niels Jørgen Langkilde, film- and television producer Ebbe Larsen and city council member Benny Nybo.